Project Spotlight: The Gibowicz Home

Julie and Joe Gibowicz’s Sudbury farmhouse was built in 1810 and expanded in 1860. With its long history and charming period details like posts and beams, wood floors and brick fireplaces, the couple has been very careful in their approach to remodeling. 

The Gibowiczes first hired Custom for some smaller projects soon after purchasing the home in 2004. We later worked on a half bathroom downstairs and then the master bathroom. But the Gibowiczes always had something bigger in mind: a major kitchen renovation. 

Julie and Joe both enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen with their three girls. However, the former space was tight and needed an update. They wanted to build an addition to expand the kitchen and connect it with the family room. Doing so, in fact, would restore an original element of the house. 

“From what we’ve been told, there used to be a room where the addition now stands,” Julie says. “At some point, it was removed from the house and hauled across the ice to start a home for one of the children. Unfortunately, it burned down in the ’50s.”

The kitchen opens up into the new addition which is framed with historic beams that we sourced from another location.

Preserving the Home’s Character

During the demolition phase of this project, which kicked off last spring, we saved as much of the reusable building materials as possible. For example, wood flooring was relocated to other areas of the floor and reclaimed for a countertop on the new coffee bar. Bricks from a disassembled fireplace became the backsplash for that same bar. 

“The bar is one of my favorite parts of the renovation,” Julie says. “It’s really cool that we could take all these old things and create something new with them.” 

Preserving the home’s character required attention to detail and a willingness to go the extra mile. Julie recalls spending one morning with lead carpenter Eric Forgues testing different combinations of finishes to make sure the reclaimed pine being installed matched the old flooring.

In another nod to the home’s rich history, the Gibowiczes chose to border the new opening from the kitchen into the family room with pine beams. Rather than use new wood, we contacted our friends at Bingham Lumber in Brookline, New Hampshire. Coincidentally, they had just received lumber from an old barn in Fitchburg. Custom president Bill Farnsworth carefully selected beams from the warehouse to bring back to Sudbury. 

“We’ve worked with Bill several times, and he’s always been wonderful,” Julie says. “I feel as if he’s always liked our house and is excited to be part of anything we’re doing.” 

More Room for Entertaining

Julie appreciated having Eric as the lead carpenter once again, saying, “We work well together. He understands what we want and takes the time to make sure it’s done right.” She also praised the many members of the Custom team who assisted throughout the project, from kitchen design to product selection to handling general requests. 

Since the bulk of the project was completed in August, the Gibowiczes have had some time to experience the benefits of the renovation. Entertaining has become easier and more enjoyable. Both Julie and Joe have large families, and they were able to comfortably host about 30 family members for a daughter’s recent birthday party. 

Day-to-day living has become easier and more enjoyable as well. 

“With the additional kitchen space, we can all do our own thing in the morning and not be on top of each other,” Julie says. “Everything works better in terms of flow, and we have more storage too. I love cooking and just being in the kitchen. I feel very lucky.”